January 19, 2015 by crew
This battle report isn’t particularly about Doctor Who, or rulesets, or miniatures. It is simply about the joy of making and playing your own games. Two years ago (it seems longer, somehow) two friends, inspired by a marathon of 70s Doctor Who DVDs, set out to make a wargame centred around Doctor Who and the Time War in particular. We did it for no other reason than wanting to play a game like that. We have never had any desire to make money from it, but we are particularly proud of how far we have come in such a short while. If there is but one thing we would like the reader to take away from this, it is that, with a lot of effort, and a bit of time, anybody can make a wargame, and enjoy it.
The ruleset we came up with was based predominantly around the idea of squad battles, and whilst there are quite considerable differences in troop quality throughout, the most important aspect for all factions is keeping squads intact and striking with them at the right moment. The size of the squad impacts heavily upon their ability to function, as the size is added to most scores during the game. This makes the game a surprisingly fluid system, with the potential outcome of a battle being changed in a single turn.
The miniatures we use were sculpted almost entirely by Joel, whilst I (Ant) concentrated on the ruleset (i.e. slacked off from the sculpting bit). The only models Joel didn’t sculpt are the ones we use for Slave Troopers and UNIT. These are from Pendraken Miniatures, from their Sci-Fi and Falklands ranges. Joel had his sculpts moulded and printed through Pendraken. We got enough to play, and it was surprisingly cheap.
Even with the cost of each mould, to get our first 4 factions done with enough to play, cost us about ₤175 between us. You can spend that much on another game easily and not have enough to play. Certainly, this is 10mm, which is a very affordable scale that allows gaming on a budget. Still, whilst it is a lot of work to actually sort out all of the things yourself rather than just buy an existing game, it is scarily doable. I still don’t quite believe how much we managed to achieve.
There is still a bit to do. Joel is still not done making miniatures (we plan to have models for ourselves of all the Doctors), and the rules are getting some finishing touches, finally adding in rules for scenarios and polishing it all off. The light is at the end of the tunnel, and we are already looking towards our next projects. Some of them may even see a wider audience, given that we are finally venturing away from other people’s IP. Still, all we wanted to do was make a game for ourselves. We succeeded, remarkably. It’s been quite a road, but it’s a road open to you. Just do it, and see!
The Battle: Daleks vs. Time Lords
This is a standard Confrontation battle. The objective is simply to destroy or rout the enemy. Each player had 200pts to spend on their army. Joel took the Time Lord Alliance, and I took the Dalek Empire. These are the two standard factions that we have in our rulebook, but we have made more since.
- 1x Dalek Invasion Leader with retinue of 10 Daleks
- 2x Dalek Patrol – 5 Daleks
- 4x Slave (Dalek) Trooper Squad – 10 Troopers and a LMG (Light Machine Gun)
- 1x Dalek Squad – 10 Daleks
- 1x Slave Trooper Heavy Weapon Squad – 5 Troopers with LMGs
Daleks are extremely potent, although less mobile than Time Lords. The Daleks themselves are slow, but they have the deadliest firepower. Taking a Dalek Commander makes Slave Troopers expendable, meaning that they don’t contribute to the morale total, so if an opponent wants to break the Daleks they will have to kill some of them! Dalek Squads also shoot their own Expendable Squads to make them rally, making Slave Troopers very effective protection. Daleks are surprisingly hard to use with this ruleset, but they have a lot going for them nonetheless.
Time Lord Alliance
- 1x Castellan with retinue of 10 Chancellery Guard
- 5x Chancellery Guard – 10 Guards
- 1x Marines – 10 Marines with a LMG
- 1x Time Lord Warriors – 8 Time Lords
- 2x U.N.I.T squads – 10 UNIT with a LMG and Truck
Time Lords are a particularly fast faction. Chancellery Guard are quick, but don’t have the range of options available to other squads. They can get into position much quicker though, giving the Time Lord Faction a lot of tactical options. Time Lord Warriors are very expensive, but they are even faster than Chancellery Guard, and have very good stats, as well as the ability to set a trap, but in this scenario it is unlikely to be useful. Marines are a solid choice, not as fast as Chancellery Guard, but much better armed and armoured. Lastly, the force has two squads of UNIT. They are solid and well-equipped Veteran troops. Although they lack the marines’ armour they have trucks, giving them the speed to keep up with the army.
Joel rolled well for deployment, giving him the choice of deployment zone. He opted for the side with the most terrain, placing him closer to cover. He set up his Time Lord Warriors and UNIT Trucks on the flanks, having one Truck on each flank. He tried to encourage me to cater to one of his flanks, but I deployed mostly in a central position. This turned out to be wise, as Time Lords have an ability that allows them to re-deploy D3 troops. He rolled a 1, and moved one Truck next to the other, switching the emphasis of his flanks. This turned out to be a crucial factor in the game.
Turns 1 & 2
The Time Lords went first.
The majority of the Time Lords made for the hills, whilst the flanking squads moved at great speed straight down the flanks. The Time Lord gambit was to goad the Dalek Force to view the two UNIT Trucks as the primary threat. The Dalek force indeed moved towards the flanking Trucks. This was a cunning manoeuvre, as a player’s own troops can block line of sight if they extend beyond the squad’s Aim stat in inches. The layout of the Dalek troops prevented all but the troops on the Dalek flank from firing at the UNIT Trucks. By Turn 2, the UNIT Trucks and Daleks were about to engage, and some of the Time Lord squads had reached the cover of the farm buildings.
The Dalek force had opted to refuse flank, concentrating on one side of resistance. This was a dangerous strategy, as the Time Lord force was far more manoeuvrable.
Whilst the Dalek’s own lines made targeting the flanking trucks somewhat problematic, and some squads could not fire at such a wide angle, one Squad of Slave Troopers managed to destroy a UNIT truck. The squad inside managed to escape the wreckage, but in doing so took three casualties.
The Time Lords were forced to fold the UNIT advance on their left flank, bringing the two Squads, with the one remaining truck back towards the hill, where Chancellery Guard were laying down a consistent but not yet effective volleys of fire. The two squads of Chancellery Guard (one with the Castellan) fired from the cover of the farm buildings, and the Time Lord Warriors continued to flank the Daleks. The slow advance of some of the Time Lord’s forces (especially the rear guard of Chancellery Guard and Marines) was triggered by an oversight in turn 2, as Joel forgot to move them. This may have proved costly, or perhaps even beneficial.
The Daleks reverted to moving towards the farm buildings. The diversion of the UNIT trucks had definitely been a costly one, as the Daleks slowly moved towards an encamped position. They maintained a solid formation however, determined not to be so easily divided by the variety of threats. The Daleks were unable to do anything to the Time Lord Warriors, but they successfully annihilated the UNIT squad on foot.
The positioning of the Time Lord army started to come to fruition. The fire from the hill, now bolstered by a squad of UNIT finally started to make a small impact, but it was the Chancellery Guard dug in at the farmhouses that really made an impact, reducing a squad of Slave Troopers by half.
But the most decisive strike came from the flanking Time Lord Warriors, who now had a sufficient angle to pick off the Heavy Weapon squad. Heavy Weapon squads can deal a truly impressive amount of damage given that a single LMG adds +D3 to the firing result of any squad that uses them. A Heavy Weapon squad has five of them, but at a squad size of five, they are very vulnerable to being fired upon. The Time Lord Warriors made quick work of them.
The weakened Slave Trooper squad was routed, but the Obey! rule of the Daleks came into play, and two troopers were executed by the Daleks behind them. The remaining three remained where they were. Sure, they were unlikely to do much, but in Time Wars fleeing squads are simply removed. So the Obey! rule does at least keep whittled screens in place. In this game, the small advantages can be huge in the right circumstances.
The Daleks responded by shooting all possible firepower into the dug in chancellery guard. Sadly, the casualties inflicted were minimal. It was looking very bad for the Daleks.
The Time Lords pressed home their advantage, still strong from the heavily unsuccessful Dalek onslaught. The troops on the west hill managed to whittle down a squad of Slave Troopers to half strength, whilst the troops in the farm wiped a whole trooper squad out completely. Between them, the Time Lord Warriors and Marines eliminated both Dalek Patrol squads.
After such a devastating volley of fire, there was barely anything left of the Dalek force, and with the end of the game in sight anyway, it was impossible for the Daleks to turn back the tide. We called it there.
This is one of our older battle reports. We have played many games since, and whilst many games are memorable, this remains an excellent showcase for the game. Above all else, you know you’re onto a winner with a ruleset when the player with the massively superior tactics wins the game by a landslide.
And what a landslide. The Dalek force is a very slow one, and the Time Lord faction makes up for this significantly. Diverting from the main course to deal with a flank was pretty disastrous, both in the time it cost, and the fact that I devoted resources to it that couldn’t shoot anyway. The remaining Daleks could have done quite a bit of damage in my turn, but not enough to deal with all the threats.
In the time since this battle, I have, mercifully, become much better with Daleks. But it is still interesting to reflect on the yin and yang approach that we arrived at for the main factions. We didn’t actually do it deliberately, but it’s there. It does make Time Lords seem a more dominant faction, but once those Daleks start shooting whole units disappear in a single turn. Even small Dalek patrols can shrug off troop squads that have only taken minor damage.
The primary lesson I learned from this game could be useful to players who use factions in any game where they have slower elements that are protected by faster elements. They may want to consider a deployment of putting the slower elements up front, with the faster elements behind, and allowing the faster elements to naturally overtake them and start screening.
This works very well in games like Time Wars, where neither side is likely to damage the other in the first turn. When dealing with slow factions, it is best to have a singular focus and move towards it. Re-directions are unnecessarily costly, and it is best to make ground where possible. Considering the fact I was outnumbered, I considered letting the Time Lords come to me, but whilst I may have won, it would have been a very boring game.
We are always overjoyed when people take an interest in our little game. It is something that we did simply because we could. The best thing any group of friends can do if they have an idea for a game is to just do it. It wont always be easy, you may fall out, you may struggle, but for every idea that falls into place, and every game you play based on an idea that you yourselves conceived and executed is worth all the effort. Never think that you can’t do it. In this day and age it is more important than ever to embrace the old school fiddling and bodging attitudes of wargaming. Because we could be a dying breed, and you’re the best people to make sure it doesn’t happen.
If you would like to get your hands on the rules for this game and try it yourself message Joel on the link below for more information!
Joel Langford & Ant Loughlin
If you would like to write articles for Beasts of War please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
"Dalek Squads also shoot their own Expendable Squads to make them rally, making Slave Troopers very effective protection!"
"The best thing any group of friends can do if they have an idea for a game is to just do it!"